Shamir, Knesset Take Tough Stand on Giving Up Territory for Peace

Government officials here have reacted to Palestinian euphoria over the peace conference in Madrid by pounding home that Israel will not make territorial concessions or allow a Palestinian state.

Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir did just that when he told visiting South African President F.W. De Klerk here Monday that “little Eretz Yisrael” is too small to be partitioned into two states.

The government’s hard line got strong support from the Knesset, which, by a sizable majority Monday, adopted a resolution ruling out concessions on the Golan Heights.

Most members of the Labor opposition attending the session voted with the Likud and its right-wing coalition partners.

Only one Laborite, dovish Yossi Beilin, opposed the resolution, while many other party members absented themselves from the chamber during the balloting.

Shamir and other government officials are reported to have been taken aback, angered and worried by the tumultuous welcome the Palestinian delegates who took part in the Madrid peace talks received from the Palestinian populace on their return Sunday to the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem.

POSSIBLE SPLIT WITHIN LABOR

Although little of substance was discussed in Madrid, the Palestinian crowds reacted as if their sovereignty and independence were assured and even imminent.

That was said to account for Shamir’s hardline remarks to De Klerk and their swift dissemination to the news media.

Shamir vowed to his guest that there would never be a Palestinian state and stressed that notwithstanding the peace process, Israel is “not thinking” of territorial concessions.

Shamir observed that the involvement of the United States and Europe in the affairs of the Middle East sometimes can be counterproductive.

He asked the South African president if he liked it when the United States or other countries got involved in the affairs of South Africa.

De Klerk reportedly responded with a firm “no.”

Israel’s fears that it might be asked to trade territory for peace has split the Labor opposition. Doves sustained a serious defeat by party hard-liners during discussions over the weekend in preparation for a party conference later this month.

Some members who see Labor drawing closer to Likud on the issue have threatened to leave the party and join the “peace bloc” consisting of the left-wing Center-Shinui Movement, Mapam party and Citizens Rights Movement.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister David Levy told the Knesset on Monday that the multinational phase of the peace conference would begin before the end of this month, probably in Europe, and would include representatives from Japan and Canada in addition to the regional powers.

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